Israel to Move From Coal to Electric Trains

An Israel Railways train Photo by Moshe Shai/FLASH90
An Israel Railways train. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Israel took delivery Wednesday of its first train locomotive that works strictly on electricity. The locomotive is the first of many planned to be deployed in Israel, as part of the Transport Ministry’s plan to convert the country’s train service from its current fossil fuel-based energy to electricity.

Clean burning and cheaper to run, electric trains will enable the country to make greater use of its natural gas bounty, as the Israel Electric Corporation increases its use of natural gas to produce electricity. Just this week, Israeli energy firms Isramco and Modiin Energy announced that they had found a “substantial” new gas field off the coast of Israel. The companies released an evaluation by Texas-based consultants Netherland, Sewell & Associates that claims that the new finds could contain over 9 tcf (trillion cubic feet) of natural gas, close to the size of the Tamar gas field’s 10 tcf.

Besides energy and monetary savings, the new trains will allow Israelis to get where they are going faster, the Ministry said. The maximum speed for trains in Israel today is 140 kilometers per hour – although in practice none ever exceed 100 kph – while electric trains will be capable of topping 160 kph.

The locomotives are being supplied to Israel by French firm Bombadier, with which Israel Railways has a contract to supply locomotives and passenger cars for trains. The company is set to deliver 72 such locomotives altogether, and will convert 293 existing diesel locomotives to electric use.